Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stuff My Brain Says #83

A law isn’t a law unless it is enforced.

No matter the topic -  gun control, taxes, even jaw walking - laws are completely meaningless if not enforced.

So, if you are mad about a nineteen year-old being able to purchase a firearm to use in a killing spree in a gun-free school zone, or whether or not President Trump paid his “fair share” of taxes, and you think the solution is more laws, look first at what laws are ALREADY on the books and are not enforced.

You’ll realize that we either need less and more effective laws, or increased enforcement of those that already exist.

Sometimes Congress does its best work when on vacation.

© Emittravel 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Because Science, Stupid!

In my last blog post I presented a simple, effective, and cost-effective solution to the (non-existent) rash of school shootings. (I say “non-existent” rash, because the number of such events have been going DOWN over the years, not increasing.) In this post I want to offer yet another option: one that is backed by science. And you know, if science says it is true, you are the worst form of human being if you disagree.

One recommendation I’ve heard lately is raising the age to permit someone to purchase a firearm (there are many terms floating around as to what that type of firearm would be, but I’m going to just call them firearms) to 21 years old. Apparently, if someone is under the age of 21 they are not “mature” enough to legally own something like that.

That is only partially correct.

Let’s see: 21 years old to purchase a firearm. 21 years old to purchase alcohol. 18 years old to purchase cigarettes (someone want to ask the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms about this discrepancy?). 18 years old to vote for the most powerful position in the United States. And 16 years old to drive a two-ton vehicle at high speeds.

So what does science say? Science says that the hippo-campus, the part of the brain that makes decisions, isn’t fully formed until the age of 25. That means we allow people who are UNABLE to make decisions to drive (there are more deaths by automobile than guns) and decide who the President of the United States should be.

Does anybody else see the problem with that?

Those of us who question the validity of man-made climate change (even though the descriptor “man-made” is often dropped) are considered crackpots, conspiracy theorists, and deniers. Why? Because, according to former President Obama, the science is settled. Therefore, since science tells us that man-made climate change is real, we need to make drastic changes in the way we conduct our lives in order to comply.

But why are we okay with allowing the SETTLED science that states people are UNABLE to make good decisions before the age of 25 the ability to do any of those things I listed above, when they are clearly not capable?

Part of it is political.

I remember the whole “Rock the Vote” during the President Clinton era. Remember when he answered such tough questions on an MTV show, surrounded by teenagers, like “Boxers or briefs?” Yeah. Those are the individuals we want in voting booths.

But that is the thing: politicians do not run on facts, clearly laid out agendas, and policies. They run on emotional manipulation. You know, the area of the brain (amygdala) that is overly developed during the same below-25 period. That’s why politicians want people stupid enough to eat Tide Pods (not to be confused with Pad Thai . . . mmmmm) in the voting booth.

So, the solution is to not allow such major life decisions to individuals under the age of 25. That means no voting, drinking, purchasing firearms, and driving. This time should be used to help those individuals LEARN how to make good decisions, instead of using them to help push agendas (I’m talking to you “anti-NRA” people.)

This would be, like man-made climate change, a drastic change in the way we conduct our lives. And yes, I’m okay with this. Why? Well one: it’s science. And two: I’m over 50.

© Emittravel 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Real Criminal in School Shootings

February 14, 2018. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida. An event that has been a major discussion topic since the tragedy took place.

I’ve listened to both pro and con gun advocates. I’ve heard the outcries for our government to “do something” (though what, is never explicitly determined). And I’m growing deaf to the political grandstanding on both sides - each trying to score points with their “base”.

One such suggestion to “fix” this is to arm teachers. Now, as a pro-2nd Amendment person I have to say that is a DUMB idea. And here is why:

My wife is a public high school teacher. Every year, from about a month BEFORE school starts to about a month AFTER school ends, she belongs to the school and your children. If you do the math, that means I get her for about a month to two months a year. With the pressure of school testing (which, honestly, is really more a rod to punish good teachers rather than educate students), behavioral issues with children (broken, dysfunctional, and non-existent homes), and the ever increasing paperwork to comply with government mandates, what she has on her plate is more than enough for some “arm everyone” gun advocate to put yet ANOTHER thing on her plate.

I’m going to give you a fix for the school shooting problem. And it won’t cost schools a dime. That means no additional (unarmed) guards roaming the halls, no additional metal detectors, or locking the building doors while class is in session (wasn’t that what got Joe Clark in trouble? “Stand By Me” reference.). All schools have to do is remove the following sign:

That’s it. Period.

The beauty of this is that you don’t have to go about arming teachers. You will give teachers who are ALREADY armed permission to carry. And the real beauty of Concealed Carry is that no one knows WHO is armed and WHO is not. And it is THAT which will keep students (and everyone else) safe.

Every malcontent that arms himself and goes into a school is NOT insane. They are rational beings. BECAUSE they are going into gun-free zones to do their shooting proves it. And if/when these bastards have been captured, the “temporary insanity” excuse should be thrown out the window!

I blame the anti-2nd Amendment IDIOTS who created the whole “gun-free zone” bullsh*t for EVERY person who has been harmed in a shooting IN THOSE ZONES. That’s right. Your “fear” killed those people. YOU created an environment that gives PERMISSION to people to come in and start shooting.

It’s not that we need everyone to be armed. We need to allow those who desire to do so to do so. That element of the unknown will do more to protect than any law that only impedes law abiding citizens.

And before you tell me we need just one more law to protect us, consider this: it is ILLEGAL to murder. Apparently, those who will break that law really don’t give a rat’s ass about any other law you may come up with. That’s why they are called “law BREAKERS”! If a person is willing to break THAT law, do you really think an additional waiting period, or keeping guns out of the hands of supposedly mental unstable people will fix it?

Stop being an idiot.

© Emittravel 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Guess You Can’t Call the MLB Racist

They finally did it. After many years of whining by a VERY tiny minority, Major League Baseball has finally put the kibosh on the Cleveland Indian’s mascot - Chief Wahoo.

Starting in 2019, the Cleveland Indians will no longer display Chief Wahoo on their uniforms. Not only that, but the MLB will no longer sell any merchandise with the Chief Wahoo logo. The Chief is still welcome in the stands and will be available at the team shop, but the MLB will no longer “officially” recognize the long-loved mascot.

My feelings concerning Chief Wahoo have been expressed previously. If you want to read about some history and my reasonings why we should KEEP Chief Wahoo, please take a few moments to read it (or, hopefully, REread it!)

As far as the why, I think that is pretty self-evident: Cleveland has been granted the privilege of being home to the All-Star Game in 2019. Coincidence? I think not. I think that the only way Cleveland was granted the honor was IF they allowed for the “retirement” of the mascot.

Now, there are people who like the block “C” logo, and people who don’t. Not to sound like an advertisement - which this is NOT - but there IS a very tasteful alternative. GV Art & Design has come up with a design that removes the Chief, without removing the heart:

Classy, tasteful, and very Cleveland!
If you want to read more, check out this brief article from a local Cleveland station:

I could go into a tirade over the fact that the minority voice is calling the shots in our society, regardless of what the majority thinks. I could talk about the fact that there is a generation (or two) with VERY thin skin out there. I could mention that trying to rewrite history does not make it better. I could even mention the 1st Inning of the Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball” that proved how the racism of a MINORITY of white players kept black players from being a part of the MLB for YEARS.

But I won’t. I’ve got too much class (NOT!)

But I will say that I’m sure the MLB will be very happy with the loss of revenue from Chief Wahoo merchandise sales (sarcasm font). Because, the MLB is NOT racist. And neither am I. And if you think that because I’m wearing Chief Wahoo that I am? You are wrong.

And an idiot.

© Emittravel 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

30% = Success!

“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” - Ted Williams

What a game.

My wife and I started watching the Ken Burns documentary “Baseball”. We’re only in the first inning (the documentary is divided up into ten), but are already captivated. It talks about the early beginnings, how it changed over the years, and slowly became the game we know today.

"Baseball is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed, and the only one in which the defense has the ball. It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn… ...It is a haunted game in which every player is measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope--and coming home." - quote from “Baseball”

One of the big complaints I’ve heard over the years is that baseball is a slow game. It takes too long. Nothing happens for long periods of time. My friends, that is the beauty of baseball.

I read an article by Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri on Twitter) entitled: “MLB Plans to Implement Pace-Of-Play Changes Against Players’ Wishesthat really fired me up. The first sentence says it all: “Over the objections of players, MLB hopes to implement a pitch clock and tighter restrictions on mound visits this season…”

I know what you’re thinking. “Don’t other sports have clocks?” Sure they do. Football has a clock that determines delay of game, about 25 seconds once a referee signals the ball is ready for play. Basketball has a shot clock. Both sports are divided into quarters (football - 15 minutes, basketball - 12 minutes), with a break after the second quarter.

So, wouldn’t a pitch clock speed up baseball like the ones in football and basketball? Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, the clocks in football and basketball really don’t speed up the game either.

As I’ve stated, both football and basketball work off of quarters. So, football and basketball games are only an hour long, right? Hell no.

An average NFL game lasts THREE HOURS AND TWELVE MINUTES. An average NBA game lasts TWO HOURS AND THIRTY MINUTES. You know, short games.

Baseball does not have such time constraints. It is a game where you have as much time as needed in order for one team to win (nine innings standard, with extra innings in case of a tie after the first nine). It is a game of strategy. And it is the longest running sport in our nation’s history.

“But J.P., there is so much time standing around with nothing happening. A pitch clock would speed that up.”

This may come as a surprise to all of you football fans (this is being written during the playoff games), but for a game that runs over three hours, there is only about eleven MINUTES of actual play. So, the next time you are standing out in the cold, wearing face paint and your favorite player’s jersey, just remember that.

Furthermore, a pitch clock would only add a level of pressure that could lead to injuries. There are enough rules that a pitcher has to follow (ever hear of a balk?) that adding a pitch clock would only pressure poorer performance - which can lead to injuries to both the pitcher and the batter. Unless you think the game could use more “wild pitches” . . .

Emma Baccellieri's article points out that the pitch clock has been in use in the minor leagues for awhile. I've seen it. And the clock ALONE is not that bad of an idea. It can help keep the focus of the game for the pitcher. But the big difference between the minor and major league versions is that for the minors there are no penalties if not observed. It's the PENALTIES proposed that, if implemented, will be to the detriment of the players and the game.

I’m with the players on this. Baseball has never been a game of the clock. Don’t change that. Baseball is the only sport where players can’t run out the clock or take a knee. It’s not until that last out that the game ends.

And that is the way it should be.

© Emittravel 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

You Should Trust Our Technology - Even If We Don’t

My wife and I took a trip to the lovely state of Utah last summer. We spent time with good friends at Nerdtacular and hit all five National Parks during our two-week stay.

Upon our arrival home I noticed that a $200 pair of sunglasses were missing from my checked luggage. Being obviously upset, I contacted both the airline and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). I had placed the sunglasses into my luggage, checked it at the counter, and waved “goodbye” to it as it was handed over to the TSA.

I had contacted both, because it could easily have been accessed by someone from either group.

The TSA representative on the phone told me that IF the TSA had inspected my bag, they would have left a note saying they had done so. Since there was no such note, the TSA clearly did not inspect my bag. The representative then told me that, since I cannot lock my bag to prevent theft, I should either use cable ties (that can be cut by the TSA to inspect) or a TSA-approved lock - where they have a key that will open it.

A couple of things here. First, if someone is going to rob your house, do they normally leave a note explaining that they did it (including WHO)? If I was going to rob your house, I certainly wouldn’t leave a calling card! This isn’t a “B” movie from the 1970s! It’s more obvious that someone, even under the pretense of an “official” TSA inspection, saw something they wanted, took it, and did not leave a note.

Second, isn’t the argument why a TSA-approved lock isn’t appropriate the same as giving the government/police a “back door” to the encryption on your phone? If there is a key that can unlock any TSA-approved lock, than wouldn’t that be “hackable” - by anyone?!?

On Christmas Day, my wife and I flew out of Cleveland and went to Ft. Myers. Her folks are retired and live there, so we try to get there as often as possible. We DO NOT want them here (Cleveland) in the winter. You know, we LOVE them!

When we arrived at her parents’ house and we started to unpack, I found the following:

Yup! My bag was inspected by the TSA. The funny part is the first paragraph (and is the purpose of this blog post):

“To protect you and your fellow passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law to inspect all checked baggage. As part of this process, some bags are opened and physically inspected. Your bag was among those selected for physical inspection.”

So, in order to “protect” me and my fellow passengers, the TSA is required by law to inspect ALL checked baggage. How do they do this? Well, they run it through a scanner. Much like they use for your carry on.

The scanner does not work. Why? IF the scanner worked, they wouldn’t have to physically inspect a bag. BECAUSE they physically inspect some bags, they admit the scanner does not work. If it did work, they would not have to physically inspect them.

But, I thought they do this to “protect you and your fellow passengers”? They don’t. If they did give a rat’s ass about us, they would inspect EVERY bag (as required by law). They don’t. They randomly pick a few and inspect them. Why should they inspect EVERY bag? Because they admit that the scanner does not work!

Apparently, the TSA inspectors are all multi-million-dollar lottery winners who pick winning tickets EVERY time. Because, if a plane holds about 140 people, with each person checking about 1.5 bags each (my wife and I normally check one bag each, though we see plenty of people in line with more than two), that means about 210 items are run through the useless TSA scanner for each flight. Then, out of the 210, maybe a half-dozen (generous assumption) get physically inspected. That means only one of every 35 bags are inspected. I’m not a math genius, but the odds of a “hot” bag getting by TSA is pretty good. And they do this in order to “protect” us.

I’m reminded of the classic movie “Airplane!” that came out in 1980. There is a scene in the airport security line where people are passing through a metal detector. There is an inspector watching a monitor. As men pass through the detector you see them walk by on the monitor. When a beautiful woman walks through, the image on the monitor is the woman walking through completely naked. Then a bunch of bearded men come through in camouflage, carrying rifles and bazookas. They pass right through. Then a little-old-lady walks through, the alarms go off, the guards grab her, slam her against the wall, and body search her. Meanwhile, more men with weapons pass through without setting off the alarms.

For a movie from 1980, when it came to safety and security technology, they weren’t that far off...

© Emittravel 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018

Not ANOTHER New Year's Resolution Post

Every year I make the same New Year's resolution. And, I'm happy to say, I've been very good at keeping it:

"I resolve to never make a New Year's resolution."

In my own, odd-humor way that is supposed to be funny. You may or may not agree. That's okay. Some would say it is rather lazy to not make a resolution. And they might be correct in that. But part of me thinks that changes in my life will take more than a pronouncement. And I think the same for you.

During one of the many televised New Year's Eve programs last night, someone I'm unfamiliar with sang John Lennon's "Imagine" right before the ball dropped in New York City. He did a nice job. And it was that song that spurred this particular post.

I'm not going to quote the song. I'm sure the simple mention of it has it playing in your head. It's one of those kind of songs. But what I am going to do is challenge you to think of what would be needed for that song to come a reality. Not just the lack of a heaven or hell; I'm talking about we all just getting along as one.

Would going to the gym more get us there? How about quitting smoking? Would even being more positive do the job?

I don't think so. It will take a lot more. It will take a lot more to get us past ourselves. You know: the very individuals who are the main blocks to progress. 

From Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, the music my music players project are pretty much nothing but Christmas/Holiday tunes. One of the songs was from the Judd's 2000 celebration live album. Being a live album, there is some talking that is played. One of the things talked about was that, being the beginning of a new millenium, there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and togetherness. That we were approaching a new evolutionary state of humanity. Riiiggghhhttt.

I'm reminded of the song "Aquarius". Look it up. The 5th Dimension did a great job. They thought the same thing. 

It takes more than a declaration. It takes more than a feeling. It takes a radical change in US.

I make radical comments all the time. Usually to get people thinking. I recently made a comment to a person concerning racism. Apparently the lady who is marrying the Prince (England) is black. I questioned that. The person said that she was half black and half white. I said, "Oh yeah. If you are 99% white and 1% black, you are 100% black. That's okay. We are all black then." That got a rise. I told the person, "What color do you think Adam and Eve were? It has been estimated that the probable location of the Garden of Eden was Ethiopia. And, since you can get all colors from black, and no colors from white, Adam and Eve were obviously black." The person then replied, "I have black friends, but I'm NOT black."

If you have trouble seeing the racism in the above paragraph, you may just want to skip the rest of this post: it's not for you. Go to the gym.

As long as we humans remain the same, we will NOT EVER reach "the dawning of the Age of Aquarius". We will continue to drive the same. We will continue to talk others down. We will continue to live in a world of us versus them.

It takes more than a resolution. It takes a continuous, active focus on who we are, and effort to bring about the change we want to see. 

And no, don't expect everybody else to change along with you. Politicians will continue to be politicians (regardless of political stripe). Aggressive drivers will continue to cut you off. People will continue to kill other people because they think, believe, or look different. And people will continue to strive for Darwin Awards in spite of those that may get hurt around them.

You are only responsible for you. They say there is only one thing you take with you when you pass on: your character. Make it a good one.

© Emittravel 2018